Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ComFest Survival Guide 2011

ComFest Survival Guide 2011
written by Josh Weiker

So you’re going to ComFest …
            Do you know what you’re doing?
                        Do you know who you’re going to see?
                                    Do you know what to bring?

It can be very easy to show up to ComFest ready to party, but unless you know what you’re doing, and what is actually happening around you, then you aren’t getting the most out of your ComFest experience.

            At a glance, ComFest might just seem like an excuse to drink a lot of beer, and be around a lot of people in a park – but that’s just silly. Actually, ComFest is an amazing opportunity to celebrate the capabilities, talents, and offerings of the local Columbus community. This festival is a compilation of local Art, Music, and Food – with an ultimate goal of community comradery and supporting local business. Perhaps more than anything, ComFest is the local event to network, make a gaggle of new friends, and find collaboratively thinking individuals … everywhere.

            ComFest began in 1972, and today, it is the largest independent, volunteer-run, non-corporate sponsored festival IN THE WORLD! (or at least that’s what the website says) This festival provides a platform for local artists, merchants, musicians, poets, comedians, … pretty much anyone local that wants to do contribute - it’s like a local creative talent pot-luck. 
Now, I’m not gonna lie –
When it comes to ComFest, most of the people I know either love it, or loathe it.
            Here’s the good news – almost all of the people that hate it, don’t like it for the same three reasons;
‘It’s too crowded’
‘I can’t stand hippies,’
and the infamous, ‘The bands suck.’

1)     Yes, there are a lot of people, and the attending population continues to increase every year. But when has this ever stopped you from enjoying anything else? Big concerts, amusement parks, shopping malls – ech, I’d rather deal with the crowd at ComFest over the crowd at Easton, any day.
Of the masses, you’ll find families, packs of teenagers, and of course …

2)     Hippies.                          
If you are truly driven mad by the hippie culture, then here is the first challenge of ComFest – you need to create a visual filter. You need to be able to see past all of the crap you don’t really care about (this also applies to families and teenagers), just look for what it is you are seeking – just like any other day. If you choose to focus on what you don’t like about something, of course you aren’t going to have fun. And, Really? I mean come on, hippies are harmless – I could personally care less whoever is around me, as long as they aren’t impeding on my bubble; and even then, worse-case scenario, you look another direction, or go to another stage. What I’m saying is, get over it, deal with it, and be happy – no one likes a Negative Nancy.

3)           There are a lot of bands that play over the course of this three day festival. If you don’t know who’s playing when and/or where, then it would be easy to think that the bands suck.
Well today is your lucky day, let me break it down for you … on page 7. Just take my word for now, once you know what you’re looking for, the bands will rock your pants off … and that’s a good thing...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011



The Right to Dance: Written by Richard C. Ehrbar III 
During the late night of April 12, 2008, Mary Oberwetter and a small group of individuals decided to gather to pay homage to America’s foremost freedoms of expression and individual rights.
The anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday was to transpire in the coming minutes, and those who gathered at the Thomas Jefferson memorial in DC had planned on celebrating the life and memory of the champion of the 1st Amendment. To celebrate this day in history, and the ideals of free thought and expression, Oberwetter and others’ decision to dance, would have been an appropriate mode of expression. Surely, nobody could be hurt or distracted by this harmless act.
But alas, Oberwetter and the others were told that the dancing had to stop. “Why?” Oberwetter asked the DC Parks Police. And this simple inquiry dear friend, led Oberwetter to be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of interfering with agency functions. She was later released and the charges were dropped.
Fast forward to May 17, 2011. After appealing the constitutionality of the arrest, conservative judge John Bates, appointed by President George W. Bush, declared the memorial should retain a “tranquil and contemplative mood”, thereby officially deeming it illegal to dance at the Jefferson memorial.
Sensing the utter absurdity of the Bates ruling, a small group of five DC area activists, including Iraq war veteran Adam Kokesh (host of RT’s Adam vs The Man), Eddie Freeman, Jared Denman, Medea Benjamin, and another unidentified activist decided to go and dance again at the memorial. What ensued on Saturday, May 28, 2011 would turn the stomachs of those in the USA and around the world. Freeman and the others were arrested. However, Kokesh was not only arrested, but he was also body slammed onto the marble floor and choked by the DC Parks Police. 

In a savvy move, the activists had their cameras rolling and spread the news of the arrests in a viral fashion over the internet. Before the activists had arrived at the nearby Anacostia precinct, thousands of calls had flooded the non emergency phone lines, to the point where the precinct had to set up a special redirect line in order to free up the non emergency lines. For a moment in time, the only way to get through to the Anacostia police was through emergency 911. In a matter of a few short hours the activists were released.
That night, Kokesh and the others decided they were going to dance again, only this time it would be much larger. The date was set for June 4th. The site – you guessed it - the Thomas Jefferson memorial. Hours after forming the official Dance Party At TJ’s facebook event page, hundreds of activists across the nation committed to dancing in solidarity at the memorial. In a matter of a few days, the phenomenon had gone global. Thousands of individuals in twenty two states and thirty four cities across the nation, in addition to twenty seven international countries formed solidarity groups which decided to dance at local statehouses, federal buildings, front yards, museums, and street corners in support of those who were risking their freedom in DC. Nearly 1,000 individuals gathered in DC to dance. None were arrested this time!
As stated above, in addition to the dance in DC, numerous cities across the country got involved, including our very own Columbus, Ohio. Joined at the downtown Statehouse, a small group gathered and braved 90+ degree heat in order to dance in solidarity. Libertarians, anarchists, progressives, conservatives and the apolitical were present. The dance went off without a hitch, even including one member of the statehouse security joining for a brief moment to shake her booty! The DC Parks Police could’ve learned something from her example of respect and kindness.
A nation still reeling from the murder of former Marine Jose Guerena by the Tuscon, Arizona SWAT, the extension of the Patriot Act, ever increasing police brutality, and the increase in violent United States war interventions around the world found a small yet significant victory in the freedom to dance. Yes, dance!

Some may find this as largely symbolic, devoid of any tangible returns. However, at a time in our nations history when freedom of expression is being taken away by our legislators and judges in systematic fashion, and at a time when most individuals are fearful of activism due to harsh police state repression, the idea that folks gathered to dance around the globe as well as in DC without any arrests shows the true power of individuals gathering en masse to collectively shout “We’re not going to take this repression any longer!”.
For information on the coming developments related to this movement, please visit

Richard C. Ehrbar III
Organizer for Movement: Right to Dance
Strategic Communications Major
Junior @ The Ohio State University

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates